Did the German Army Mislead NATO During the Kunduz Air Strike?

by Joshua Foust on 9/19/2009 · 1 comment

Via Péter Marton, we have an anonymously-sourced news story accusing Colonel Georg Klein, the commander of the German Army in Kunduz, of misleading his superiors within NATO as to the details of the Kunduz air strike.

The NATO sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity according to the newspaper, said Colonel Georg Klein told alliance partners that German soldiers were in direct contact with the enemy when he called for the bombing which killed several civilians in Kunduz province.

The officials said no units from the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) were in the vicinity of two coalition fuel trucks that had been captured by Taliban militants, the target of the strike, it said. This would effectively rule out direct contact.

When asked by ISAF command via radio what kind of contact the troops had with enemy forces, Klein responded “visual contact,” the sources told the newspaper.

To order an air strike without confirmation from ISAF headquarters, officers must affirm that their soldiers are in direct contact with the enemy, according to NATO rules cited in the report.

If true—and to be honest, we have no way of telling if this is true or just sour grapes from some over-eager NATO PAO—then it is perhaps outrageous, yes, but also par for the course when it comes to these mass casualty air strike incidents. Unfortunately, a rather high number of these air strikes happen because of fears of imminent danger, and not actual combat activity—it’s one reason why last year Coalition Forces had a habit of bombing “wedding parties” (which could have been anything, but that’s the point: we didn’t know).

So maybe, if I can cynical for a moment, Germany is now becoming a normal partner of ISAF. Ugh.

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This post was written by...

– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from Registan.net. His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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{ 1 comment }

dennis September 20, 2009 at 12:23 am

i would ask how far was the trucks to any FOB.? “imminent danger” would fall in line then. “visual contact” how far was visual contact, 5,6,7,miles.? or 1/2 mile. i mean i have seen video that was taken that far away. when the shot was taken/ drop. did the civ,s runout in to the zone then. would love to read the full report.

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